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Pirated Online Copies Disturb ‘The Force’

Blu-ray-quality copies of Star Wars: The Force Awakens have hit piracy sites, less than two weeks ahead of Disney’s planned home-video release of the blockbuster in the format.

The first pirated copies of Star Wars: The Force Awakens appeared online late Tuesday, and within 12 hours had been downloaded by about 250,000 people, according to piracy-news site TorrentFreak, which first reported the leak.

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Disney (DIS) has set April 1 for the home-video release of the film, followed by Blu-ray on April 5. The movie has grossed more than $2 billion worldwide at the box office.

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Lower-quality “cam” rips of The Force Awakens cropped up on pirate sites shortly after the movie’s theatrical debut in December, but the latest leak appears to be the first DVD-quality copy to hit piracy networks.

An image accompanying the pirated copies indicate the rip came from a regular retail DVD, according to TorrentFreak.